November flowers for my Mum

Monday 7th November 2022

Surely, these must be the last flowers for cutting this year…. I keep going out expecting to see foliage blackened by frost and buds turned to mush. But no, the garden is still blooming!

Star of the show must be these marmalade orange flowers, Dahlia David Howard. Plants have done nothing all summer, but suddenly a month ago, after some rain, new leaves appeared and flower buds. I didn’t think they would come to anything as it’s so late in the season.

Coming into flower again is my new alstroemeria Indian Summer which I brought in July from my friend nursery owner Mary Thomas. It was in flower when I bought it, and it’s decided to get going again now. Doesn’t it look wonderful alongside the David Howard dahlias.

They look as if they are meant to be together in a bouquet. Such a pretty combination, don’t you think?

Another surprise is this red and white dahlia. It arrived all by itself. I bought a white one and a red one several years ago, and together they have produced a seedling baby combining the two colours. It’s rather pretty and flamboyant. I love the open centre as it has plenty of pollen for bees. I probably enjoy bees and butterflies as much as the flowers in my garden to be honest.

I sowed the seed for these sunflowers speculatively in August. I sowed them direct, in amongst the cosmos and calendula. Temperatures were so hot in the 30s for days on end that seeds germinated almost overnight. The result is a bed full of miniature sunflowers only 4” across. I don’t suppose this will ever happen again as we are unlikely to have another summer like this one.

Another mixed up sunflower, or it could actually be a rudbeckia. It has a very pretty chocolate coloured centre. I love any daisy-type flower.

Not a perfect flower, it’s slightly nibbled around the edges, but this is an ox-eye daisy which usually flowers in mid-summer. We have these wild flowers dotted about the whole garden, especially along gravel paths where seedlings flourish. I’m digging some up this week and moving them to a new patch of bare ground around the pond.

More white flowers just starting to bloom now are the chrysanthemums. This one is called Swan. It opens with a green and cream centre and fades to pure white. Very long-lasting in a vase, it will keep for nearly three weeks if you change the water daily. Highly recommended. I grow it in 10” pots stood outdoors for the summer and brought under cover in winter.

Verbena Bonariensis is a pretty filler for these bouquets. We often have flowers right through until Christmas, although they are starting to diminish. They are still worthy of close inspection even when there are more seeds than tiny flowers.

Also joining the last-minute party is salvia Phyllis’s Fancy. I bought this for the name as much as the flower. I’d love to know who Phyllis is. It certainly is fancy. Salvias are quite hard to photograph. I have a new camera which doesn’t seem to understand exactly what I want to focus on, but the photo is striking even with most of the flowers blurred. It’s the most wonderful purple and lavender flower.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my last-minute flowers. Can you spot the abutilon poking out of the bottom on the right. I think this is Kent Belle. Three stems of red dogwood (Westonbirt) add structure to the arrangement.

I learned from Georgie Newbery of Common Farm Flowers to add stems in a spiral by holding the bouquet in one hand and giving it a quarter turn before adding another stem. This way the arrangement looks good on both sides, and will actually stand up on its own. It’s a satisfying moment when it does!

Thanks for reading my blog. Flowers are for my lovely Mum this week. After a six week absence due to illness, I’m owing her quite a few bouquets! Join Cathy over on ‘In a Vase on Monday’ to see what others are cutting and arranging for their vases this week. It’s interesting to see the variety of flowers from all around the world.

20 thoughts on “November flowers for my Mum

  1. Indian Summer goes so well with David Howard – I remember you telling us how well alstroemerias did in the polytunnel and I did try, but nothing came of it for me, not the variety I tried, anyway. Your posy is so fulsome, it seems ironic to know that any moment there could be so little to pick – but I am sure there will be something for the IAVOm anniversary posy next week

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  2. What a bounty of blooms you have, Karen! In November to boot! I love the combination of Alstroemeria ‘Indian summer’ and Dahlia ‘David Howard’. I have the former but not the latter so I’ll have to correct that next year. Your experience with the small sunflowers is interesting. The last few years my own sunflowers have been especially small as well – maybe I should attribute that to our steadily warming climate. Best wishes to you – and you mum.

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    • Thank you Kris. I’m just having a look at all the sunflower seed packets to see if I’m growing dwarf varieties by mistake. There’s a lot of these multi-headed varieties about on more compact stems, bred for the home cut flower market. It’s so easy to make a mistake by buying the wrong varieties. They just didn’t do anything all summer, thanks to the heatwave and drought. So strange to see them flowering in November. It’s been very mild 15C today, more like a spring day than winter. It’s going to be 16C on Friday. Thanks for reading. Enjoy your gardening! Karen x


  3. Thank you for yet more beautiful flowers and for sharing your creative arrangements. I too bought ‘Indian Summer’ from Mary earlier this year but I’m missing ‘David Howard’. So that’s a plan for 2023!

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    • Thank you Peter. Mary’s plants are so strong and good quality aren’t they. Very pleased with everything I’ve had from Mary. I bought them at the Belvoir Flower Show where Mary had a stall. Have you attended the show at all? Well worth going, as not too far to travel. If I could only have one dahlia it would be David Howard. It’s such a reliable do-er and the colour change as the petals open makes it an ever-changing beauty. Thanks for reading the blog. Enjoy your gardening. Karen


      • I completely agree about the quality of Mary’s plants. For me, she always has something, plant or variety, that is new and worthwhile. I bought my ‘Indian Summer’ at Beverley Perks’s lovely garden, near Southwell. I think she and Mary are both involved in the organisation of the NGS programme in Notts. Belvoir Flower Show, I think I learned about from reading your column. For some reason it has never been on my radar but I will try to correct that in 2023. ‘David Howard’ I had a plant of years ago in a previous garden and I have yet to get going with dahlias in this garden, which I know is regrettable because they are so easy to make a splash with, in pots if necessary. So, I seem to be storing up the new year gardening resolutions already. Peter

        Sent from my iPad


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      • It’s so good to have New Years resolutions already. I’m making a few myself. I’d like to try to grow my own ginger to make ginger cakes. I’ve seen a few friends do it successfully. It might grow, as our summers are getting so hot. Yes, mary does have a lot to do with the NGS. I often go and keep her company where her own garden is open for the yellow book. I’m just on the boundary between Notts and Leic, so I’m on the committee of the Leic NGS and I’m their speaker for garden clubs in the county. Enjoy your garden planning! Karen


    • Mum was so pleased. I really thought last week’s flowers would be the end. But this week has been mild again and more buds have opened. I think that’s it though, we have had two nights of ground frost. So lovely to end the season on a high note. Have a great week. Karen x

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  4. so beautiful and what a lot is still in flower. alstromeria always reminds me of my parents. they had a huge cutting bed of mixed alstromeria and I would get armfuls. just this year I’ve biught the first for my own garden. flowers have such a powerful message..

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    • Thank you Christine. I love alstroemeria as the flowers are so long-lasting in a vase. They can go for nearly three weeks. Such happy memories of your parents’ garden too. Flowers do indeed have a powerful message. Mum was so pleased with her bouquet. They made her kitchen window look as colourful as stained glass. So nice to end the season on a high note. Thanks for reading the blog. Have a great gardening week. Karen xx


    • Thank you Suella. Mum is the best mum in the world and deserves all the flowers. The bouquet filled her kitchen window with colour and light- almost turning it into a stained glass window. Such a happy note to end the season on. I shall be struggling to find anything as lovely next week. I’ll have to forage about the garden and find colourful leaves and twigs. I’ve planted paper whites for winter though. Love that scent. Have a happy gardening week, and thanks for reading the blog. Karen xx


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